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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

NOCTURNE FOR POETRY


Yesterday was National Poetry Day.  

But since Poetry is an endangered species of literature, 

it came and went unnoticed by most.

Here is a tip of my Stetson to Poetry and its unremembered day:




I have a ghost cat.  Gypsy is her name.  It's all right if you think I am crazy.  Most days I do as well.

Being a ghost, she warns me when I am about to be visited in the midst of my sleep.  

She mutters under her breath as she was muttering now.



A reedy voice quavered in the darkness by my bed, "I have been one acquainted with the night. 

A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness"

Robert Frost slowly materialized in a misty cane chair by my bed. 

"I thought people would always be held fixed by poetry -- not necessarily mine.  But now, poetry is as dead as I."

Gypsy muttered something in cat and shoved her head under my pillow, and Frost shook his head,

"Yes, even more so since I am keeping your loyal cat awake."

He smiled at my frown.  "I am fluent in Cat."

His smile died, "But no one is fluent in the magic of poetry any more it seems."

I murmured a bit of "I Knew a Woman" by Theodore Roethke:

"I knew a woman, lovely in her bones
When small birds sighed,
she would sigh back at them."

He shook a long forefinger at me.  "You do not count.  You are Lakota."

I snorted, "We Lakota hear that a lot."

He ignored me.  We Lakota are used to that, too, and he whispered,

"Society has been changing in a way that did not favor the reading of poetry. 

From the Me Generation of the '70s to the get-rich-quick '80s, our culture became intensely prosaic.

Ambiguity, complexity and paradox fell out of favor. You the living embraced easily defined goals and crystal-clear communication 

(Ronald Reagan was president, presiding over the literalization of America).

Fewer politicians seemed to quote contemporary poets in speeches, 

and the relatively small number of name-brand, living American poets died or faded from view.

By the '90s, it was all over. 

If you doubt this statement, consider that poetry is the only art form where the number of people creating it is far greater than the number of people appreciating it.

Anyone can write a bad poem.

To appreciate a good one, though, takes knowledge and commitment. 

As a society, you lack this knowledge and commitment. People don't possess the patience to read a poem 20 times before the sound and sense of it takes hold.

They aren't willing to let the words wash over them like a wave, demanding instead for the meaning to flow clearly and quickly. 

They want narrative-driven forms, stand-alone art that doesn't require an understanding of the larger context."



The ghost of Hemingway materialized beside him, sipping from a glass of whiskey. 

"Roland is part of a world that apotheosizes the trendy, and poetry is just about as untrendy as it gets. 

Bored housewives want to read books with buzz, the latest trend."

I shook my head.  "Not everyone."

They both said as one, "You don't count."

I was starting to get a complex.

Hemingway muttered, 

"Poetry is designed for an era when people valued the written word and had the time and inclination to possess it in its highest form."

Frost nodded, "Poetry is dead."

Hemingway scowled over to me. 

"If poetry is dead, you prose writers are in the next ward over, wheezing noisily, with your family gathered around looking concerned and asking about your silverware."

I shook my head and murmured from Theodore Roethke again:

"I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow."


And since Gypsy is now a ghost cat, she drew her tiny head out from under the pillow

and yowled in a voice which sent shivers through the marrow of my bones,

 "Little do you two-leggeds know of the things that ink may do, how it can mark a dead man's thoughts for the wonder of later years, and tell of happenings that are gone clean away,

and be a voice for us out of the dark of time, and save many a fragile thing from the pounding of heavy ages; or carry to us, over the rolling centuries,

even a song from lips long dead on forgotten hills.” 

With that, Gypsy thrust her tiny ghost head under my pillow.  

Frost turned to Hemingway and sighed, "When ghosts of cats speak wiser and lovelier than we, it is time to go."

Which they did.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?  

IS POETRY DEAD? 

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU READ POETRY?

 WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU COMMITTED A VERSE TO MEMORY?

Sunday, March 19, 2017

A to Z Reveal: Questions_FOOLS KNOW; THE WISE QUESTION


“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.” 
- Voltaire 

My theme for this April is Questions

What kind of questions?  

Ah, you will have to turn in each day to find out.

“Most misunderstandings in the world could be avoided 

if people would simply take the time to ask, "What else could this mean?”
- Mark Twain

“There exists a passion for comprehension, 

just as there exists a passion for music. 

That passion is rather common in children, 

but gets lost in most people later on.” 

- Albert Einstein

 

“Reason is a tool, a machine, which is driven by the spiritual fire,” 

- Dostoyevsky (contemplating how we come to know truth)

 

TAKE THE QUESTION OF

DREAMS --

 

Why can we not remember most dreams?

 

When we sleep, we enter a "dim and ancient house of shadow."

We wander through its rooms, climb staircases, linger on a landing. 

Towards morning we leave the house again. 

In the doorway we look over our shoulders briefly 

and with the morning light flooding in, 

we can still catch a glimpse of the rooms where we spent the night. 

Then the door closes behind us 

and a few hours later,

 even those fragmentary memories we had when we woke have been wiped away.

It seems like a pact with the devil. 

As soon as you're in a position to record a dream, it starts to disappear.

 One possibility is that our brain's neuro-chemicals during sleep are very different 

from during wake time and so they don't allow us to consolidate memory. 

The other thing that's quite possible is 

 that we don't pay attention to our dreams or are unable to do so during sleep.

Those who are light sleepers, frequently awakening, tend to remember dreams better

 

Also strange, unsettling dreams

tend to stick in our minds, too!

 

WHY DO YOU THINK WE CANNOT REMEMBER OUR DREAMS? 

 “Sometimes it's not enough to know what things mean, 

sometimes you have to know what things don't mean.”

 - Bob Dylan

 

Friday, March 17, 2017

ST. PATRICK'S NIGHT AT MEILORI'S




It was St. Patrick's Night at Meilori's.
Hibbs, the cub with no clue, was hiding there from Ratatoskr, the Asgardian Squirrel.




As if hiding from that rascally rodent was possible.

Hibbs got smacked in the back of the head with a snowball so hard that for a moment he became TWO cubs!




Ratastoskr found that so funny he forgave the cub for trying to hide from him.

The squirrel scampered up beside the fuming Hibbs as the cub rubbed the back of his wet head.

"Why do people wear shamrocks on St. Patrick's Day, fur-face?"

Hibbs tried to think of a way to tweak the nose of this snowball ambusher and smiled, "Because real rocks are too heavy."

Ratatoskr pouted, "No fair!  You're not supposed to know the answer."

Hibbs smiled wider.  "I have one for you now.  Knock.  Knock."

The squirrel scowled, "Who's there?'

"Irish."

"Irish who?"

"Irish you a happy St. Patrick's Day,"  

And so tickled was Hibbs at the look in Ratatoskr's eyes, he fell giggling on his back.

The squirrel popped to the table to his right and snapped back his own question. 

 "How did the Irish Jig get started?"


The Asgardian Squirrel had not noticed the small man in green with murderous eyes sitting at the table who rumbled,

"Faith now, but the answer is clear: too much to drink and too few restrooms. 

And ye scrawny rodent, ye made me spill me drink. Now, I'll be spilling yer guts!"

Despite their long history of bickering, Hibbs thought of Ratatoskr as a friend so he waddled up to the table.  

"You get my pal over my dead body!"

Hibbs realized he might have possibly phrased that a bit better as the leprechaun rose evilly to his feet.

"Sure now, but that can be arranged."


A shimmer of snowflakes and stardust slowly formed into the regal Turquoise Woman

who held the First Hawk of Creation next to her icy heart.



Her voice was winter given life.  "Do you know why I love to eat leprechaun?"

First Hawk, later to be called Little Brother by Hibbs, cawed, "Short ribs!"

And off ran the yelping leprechaun with First Hawk flying happily after him.


Ratatoskr turned to Hibbs.  "What do you get when you cross a short-legged leprechaun with a hunting hawk?"

Hibbs shook his head mystified.

The squirrel laughed, "Not Fast Enough Food!"


Thursday, March 16, 2017

ONE WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT IN A STORM


is worth more than an hour of praise 
after a success.

You just don't know what is going on in a person's life.

You are probably going through some rough seas yourself.  If not, you will be.

That is why it is always a nice thing to do a random act kindness now and again.

You never know when it is desperately needed.

That said -- 

A tip of my Stetson to C. Lee McKenzie


Just before turning in after a grim day, I checked the Amazon Page for my latest book and happily found this:

A Luxury of Fantasy 
(4 Stars)

There's so much that can be said about this book, which is really several short stories with the main character being the charming and powerful Captain McCord.

One thing that captivates me about Roland Yeomans' work is the weaving of fact and fiction through characters who were unique in life and now have been given a chance to be unique after death through his fiction. 

I'm always delighted when he puts these people together and lets them reveal history or myth in one of his stories.

Another reason I read and enjoy this writer is his brilliant prose. "Whenever someone who knows you dies, you lose one version of yourself." 

That made me pause and return to re-read and note it. There were many others that I underlined and will remember.

In the day of the staccato sentence structure and the craze for fast-paced sock 'em in the nose plotting, 

I've enjoyed Yeomans more gently paced, but exciting stories that allow me time to luxuriate in his unusual fantasy worlds.

Thank you, Lee. It helped more than you know.  Roland

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

THE 3 KINDS OF WRITERS


Coming Soon To Paperback ... 
in COLOR!

According to Stephen King ...
   there are two kinds of writers --

"Those who are bound for the more literary or “serious” side of the job 

and examine every possible subject in the light of this question: 

What would writing this sort of story mean to me? 

Those whose destiny (or ka, if you like) 

is to include the writing of popular novels are apt to ask a very different one: 

What would writing this sort of story mean to others? 

The “serious” novelist is looking for answers and keys to the self; 

the “popular” novelist is looking for an audience. 

Both kinds of writer are equally selfish."

But to me there is a 
third kind of writer --

The Writer Who Has Burned Out On A Series


 Charlaine Harris became this type towards the end of her TRUE BLOOD series, 

losing steam, enthusiasm, and track of what went on before in her earlier tales.

I fear Patricia Briggs has succumbed to this writer fatigue as well.

For 9 books, I have looked forward eagerly to the adventures

of a frail coyote-shifter in a Brothers Grimm world of Fae, Werewolves, and Vampires ...

Poor Mercy even found herself pitted against a Volcano God in the 9th book.

But always the plot was coherent, the characters authentic to their natures.

Now, with SILENCE FALLEN ... the fire and creativity have gone;


FLAW ONE -

As an author, you know you need to re-work your novel when you warn the reader 

the alternating chapters are not linear, chronological,  nor easily understood --

Which is what Patricia Briggs did at the start of this novel.

I know what Patricia Briggs is capable of as an author. That's what makes Silence Fallen so disappointing.


FLAW TWO -

Dual POV works only when it flows seamlessly in the tumbling events of the story.

Ms, Briggs did a fine job of this in my personal favorite, FROST BURNED.

But going back in time 2 days while leaving Mercy trapped, then going back for more victimization, 

and then going back to her husband a day prior just pulls the reader out of the story.


FLAW THREE -

Having Mercy dangling, hiding, or caged for 70% of the novel irritated me.  

I do not want to see a strong heroine victimized for two-thirds of the novel. 

I am not a 50 Shades of Grey sort of guy. 

In the prior books, Mercy often found herself seemingly helpless 

but used her wits, compassion, and courage to escape death traps.


FLAW FOUR -

It is a cheat when you have a minor character actually being a powerful core cast member of Mercy's World 

where those who know him by sight fail to recognize him.

No explanation is given for this so the plot twist just fizzles.


FLAW FIVE -

Shifting motivations of the villain ... 

whose terrible crimes go unpunished by characters known for their moral compass and need to avenge.

Oh, and the villain proves NOT to be the master puppeteer ...

but tricked into his very stupid (for a centuries old manipulator) actions 

by a previously unmentioned core character for reasons that make no sense in regards to his personality.

No explanation is given.  Lazy Writing.


FLAW SIX -

A powerful ally on the cusp of becoming a terrible threat to Mercy and those she loves

 is left alone in a castle of the most powerful vampire in Europe

who could tempt her into becoming an entity who could slay thousands.

It is an act of stupidity from Mercy and those who are smarter than that.  

It is a lazy sowing of another plot twist that will disappoint.


SAD -

 I am sure die-hard fans will drink the kool-aid but I see a great series winding down.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF 
STEPHEN KING'S
TWO KINDS OF WRITERS?

HAVE YOU EVER WATCHED 
AS A TV SERIES OR BOOK SERIES 
JUST WITHERED BEFORE YOUR EYES?

Monday, March 13, 2017

SOMEONE OUT THERE NEEDS THIS



In this world
It's hard to tell the shadow from the light
What is real
Can find a way to hide behind the lies
 

Don't be fooled
Or ruled
By voices all around you
'Cause your road, will always be revealed


If you lead
Lead with your heart
It's the one thing you can trust
To always come from love
And it will shine
Right through the dark
 

Like a northern star
To show you what is true
You'll never lose
If only you
Will lead with your heart 


You have been
The truest friend that anyone could have
And the love
You always give, I want you to get back
 

Been knocked down, and found
Not everyone is what they show you
What is true, will always be revealed


If you lead
Lead with your heart
It's the one thing you can trust
 

To always come from love
And it will shine
Right through the dark
Like a northern star
To show you what is true
 

You'll never lose
If only you
Will lead with your heart


It takes the beautiful unknown
And somehow makes you feel
You're home again
Finally home again
 

And there's no longer any doubt
What the mystery's about for you
Or what you should do


Thursday, March 9, 2017

THE SOCIOPATH BESIDE YOU



"His heart exists inside the dry leaves of a soul." 
- F. Scott Fitgerald ( of Hemingway)



“I could forgive you even your cruelty if it were not for your calm.” 
- G. K. Chesterton 


Psychiatrists have believed that 

psychopaths are defined by qualities of callousness, lack of emotion, and coldness.

 They lack empathy, in other words.

 They start out with barely a moral compass, or don't have one at all, 

while sociopaths tend to develop their skewed moral compass throughout childhood and adulthood.


 These predators, both male and female, haunt our everyday lives at work, at home, and in relationships. 

 This is a class of individuals who have been around forever and who are found in every culture, society and walk of life. 

Everybody has met these people, been deceived and manipulated by them, 

and forced to live with or repair the damage they have wrought. 

These often charming—but always deadly—individuals have a clinical name: psychopaths. 

Their hallmark is a stunning lack of conscience; 

their game is self-gratification at the other person's expense. 

Many spend time in prison, but many more do not. 

All take far more than they give.


QUESTIONS TO ASK ABOUT THOSE AROUND YOU
1. Do you often feel used by the person?
2. Have you often felt that he (or she, because women can be sociopaths too) doesn't care about you?
3. Does he lie and deceive you?
4. Does he tend to make contradictory statements?
5. Does he tend to take from you and not give back much?
6. Does he often appeal to pity? Does he seem to try to make you feel sorry for him?
7. Does he try to make you feel guilty?
8. Do you sometimes feel he is taking advantage of your good nature?
9. Does he seem easily bored and need constant stimulation?
10. Does he use a lot of flattery? Does he interact with you in a way that makes you feel flattered even if he says nothing overtly complimentary?
11. Does he make you feel worried? Does he do it obviously or more cleverly and sneakily?
12. Does he give you the impression you owe him?
13. Does he chronically fail to take responsibility for harming others? Does he blame everyone and everything but himself?


SURVIVAL GUIDE


1.) MIND YOUR MIND

If in describing a new friend to others, you use 

"charming" and "persuasive" and "he/she says the most outrageous things but you just can't get mad at him/her"  --

You have trouble on your hands.  Disengage quickly.


2.) UNDER THE ICING IS ONLY MORE ICING

 It is easy to get get swept up by the winning smile, the captivating body language, and the fast talk of the typical psychopath.

Step back when you feel pulled in too quickly by someone.  

Ask why that stunning person was unattached before you met them.

Perhaps there is a wake of ruined lives behind that person.


3.)  KEEP YOUR GUARD UP IN HIGH RISK SITUATIONS

The summer season is coming with lots of parties, 

meeting new people when your mind is blunted by the relaxed sunshine days on the beach, laughter and alcohol.  

Lions lurk by the water hole for a reason.

Some situations are tailor-made for psychopaths:

 singles bars, ship cruises, foreign airports, etc.

 In each case, the potential victim is lonely, looking for a good time, excitement, or companionship, 

and there will usually be someone willing to oblige, for a terrible future price. 


4.) KNOW THYSELF

  Psychopaths are skilled at detecting and ruthlessly exploiting your weak spots. 

Your best defense is 

to understand what these spots are, and to be extremely wary of anyone who zeroes in on them.


5.) ONLY ONE REMEDY

There's only one solution for dealing with a sociopath: 

Get him or her completely out of your life for good. 


Enjoy your life
but mind your surroundings 
and those around you.
 “Some werewolves are hairy on the inside.”
―Stephen King, Danse Macabre